Anti-wrinkle injections are popular minimally invasive cosmetic treatments in Australia. Your best interests are served by consulting with a Specialist Surgeon (not just a Doctor or Dentist who might have attended a weekend course or two) who has undergone many years of further study and developed skills to ensure your outcome is optimised and uncomplicated.
A Specialist Surgeon has a more comprehensive understanding of facial structure and aesthetics. The skills and techniques developed over a lifetime of involvement with facial reconstruction are well matched to understanding and improving both – a patient’s cosmetic appearance as well as aiding functional medical conditions (gummy smiles, smile asymmetry, nasal deformity, nasal obstruction, recessive chins, TMJ pain/dysfunction).
All of these types of procedures involve some pain and some risks, so here’s what you need to know before considering cosmetic procedures and anti-ageing injections.
What types of anti-ageing treatments are available?
Every time we smile or frown we create lines (wrinkles) in our face. There are numerous muscles that attach into the skin that allow us to smile and show emotion and over time, the initial fine skin lines develop into deeper and more permanent skin crease and wrinkles. Some of these wrinkle areas are known by other common names like – “crow’s feet” and “frown or smile lines”. With advancements in medicine, some of these areas can be reversed or softened by the injection of anti-wrinkle treatments into the skin of the affected areas.
There are a variety of treatments available including anti-wrinkle injections and tissue fillers. Some of the injections work by relaxing the facial muscles (preventing the muscles from contracting and causing the skin to wrinkle), making them unable to move like they normally do. The result is smoother skin which is less prone to furrowing and wrinkling. The effects can last anywhere from a few weeks to many months depending on the type of treatment you undertake and your body’s reaction to it.
What are anti-wrinkle injections?
These are a safe and popular form of anti-ageing injections that can soften and remove fine lines, wrinkles and crows feet resulting in patients achieving a more natural, youthful appearance. Anti-wrinkle injections consist of purified proteins which are administered into your facial muscles via the use of fine needles.
They work by blocking nerve impulses and therefore reducing the activity of the muscle fibres. This relaxes the muscles and allows the wrinkles and fine lines to soften and become less visible. The procedure is relatively pain-free, results take effect within three to 14 days and results typically last for three to six months.
Common applications of anti-wrinkle injections:
- Crow’s feet
- Frown lines
- Laughter lines
- Furrow lines
- Forehead lines
- Nose wrinkles
- Mouth lines and creases
- Dynamic and static lines and creases
Can anti-wrinkle injections help with other medical conditions?
Aside from the cosmetic benefits of anti-ageing injections, muscle-relaxing injections can treat a number of medical complaints. Relaxing the muscles associated with smiling and clenching the jaws, in particular, can assist with the pain related to jaw joint (TMJ) dysfunction and also improve the smile appearance. Common treatments include:
Muscle enlargement (hypertrophy) and Bruxism. The medical condition for excessive jaw clenching and teeth grinding, that can result in enlargement of the masseter muscles and damage to the teeth is referred to as bruxism. Although the cause of Bruxism hasn’t been confirmed, some studies link the disorder with anxiety, stress, nicotine and alcohol consumption, sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). The long-term issues related to bruxism can be jaw pain and damage to tooth structure, changes in facial appearance, limited chewing ability, the flattening or chipping of teeth, and the wearing down of teeth causing sensitivity.
Whilst anti-wrinkle injections are not a cure for bruxism, they may help to reduce the damaging impact of chronic jaw clenching, including relief from headaches, jaw pain, and limiting damage to the teeth.
Gummy smile. For most people, smiling is a routine pleasurable experience that generates a positive reaction in both the individual smiling and anyone in sight of the individual’s smile. However, some people feel uncomfortable smiling because their upper lip elevates abnormally to expose not only their teeth but also the gum above the teeth – hence the term – “gummy smile”. Injections prevent the lip elevating muscles raising the upper lip as much, which reduces the amount of gum shown when smiling. Injections won’t affect your ability to either speak or chew.
TMJ dysfunction. The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the joints that connect your jaw to the base of the skull on each side of your face, positioned in front of the ears. These joints allow you to open your mouth for eating, speaking, and facial expression.
Dysfunction (secondary to abnormalities inside or outside the joint) result in pain and impaired function of the jaw joint. Patients may describe an uneven bite, pain when chewing or talking, ‘locking’ of the jaw making it difficult to open or close your mouth, ear pain or joint noises (clicking, popping or grating noise) when opening or closing the mouth.
There are many reported causes of TMJ dysfunction, including previous injuries to the joints, stress-related grinding and clenching of the jaws, misalignment of the jaws and teeth from birth, arthritis of the TMJ and more rarely other underlying medical conditions (gout, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis).
Using anti-wrinkle injections
Most anti-ageing injections are prescription-only drugs meant for use (injection) by Medical professionals. The treatment is considered non-invasive and low risk but there are consequences for inappropriate use. Possible complications are often temporary and restricted to the area of injection. These can include bruising, facial pain, redness, headache, muscle weakness, skin tightness, nausea, numbness, swelling, and a drooping of the eyelids.
In rare cases, more serious side effects include breathing, speaking or swallowing difficulties secondary to weakness of muscles controlling these functions.
The pain involved with these injections is minimal and has been described as similar to an ant bite – lasting a few seconds. The therapeutic effects typically last three to four months (longer with ongoing treatment).
What are dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers are another type of anti-ageing injection and the active ingredient is often a naturally occurring sugar that’s found in the body. They work by attracting water to the injection area in order to plump out facial lines, and they can create fuller lips, pad out hollow cheeks and eyes, and fill in deeper skin folds (like the lines running from the corner of your mouth to the side of your nose).
The injections can be uncomfortable for some patients and do vary depending on the site being treated. Local anaesthetic gels and creams can reduce discomfort. Ice is then applied to reduce bruising and swelling. Anaesthetic is generally used for the lips as the skin is dense and the treatment may be felt as a tingling or burning sensation.
The most common side effects are infection, bruising and allergic reactions; results can vary depending on the type of filler, the area treated and how fast your body metabolises the filler. For most people, however, results will last for six to 12 months.